With just over a week to go till Episode 2 launches, find out more about the final stage of publishing an episode in today's developer update:
In other news - look out for #LifeisStrange2 Episode 2 press previews today!
We are proud to say that Episode 2 of Life is Strange 2 is gold! But what does that actually mean? That the episode has been approved by Sony and Microsoft to be released on their platforms for January 24th.
Being “Gold” is an old (or “legacy”) term going back to the CD-era when the master version of a game, usually on a golden CD (or similar), was final and ready to be duplicated in order to create all purchaseable copies of the game. In the video game industry this is only possible after passing the final step before a game can be published: the submission phase, also known as certification. Even a digital-only game like ours has to go through submission phases, so we still use this term nowadays.
Every console game published has to meet quality requirements specific to the platform holders (Sony and Microsoft in our case). Developers usually have access to those requirements through specification documents (and sometimes even private support) that indicate how applications must behave in various situations. One example of this would be what exactly needs to happen when your controller runs out of battery during gameplay. Such requirements help platform holders ensure that the user experience is as good as it can be on their platform and that it remains consistent across a wide variety of titles. Spec documents cover many things ranging from big features (like the fact that a game must remain stable after the console has been put into and turned on from sleep mode), to the use of small terminology details (such as what terms we’re allowed to use for XYZ controller buttons).
A division of a publisher’s QA team (Square Enix Montreal in our case) is often dedicated to running tests (that we call Compliance tests) for us so that by the time the platform holders receive our “submission”, all the things they look out for should be resolved and the game should, in theory, be able to pass certification on it’s first go. Should the platform holders fail a submission, similar to an exam, you must re-submit your entire game… So, much like many people anxiously wait for exam results, developer teams wait for submission results. It’s always a great moment for the teams when their game or episode passes submission!
For an episodic game like Life is Strange 2, we need to go through many “exam” submission phases: 5 episodes and 2 consoles… If you ever wonder why release dates of episodes are usually only announced a few weeks in advance, it is most often because we want to make absolutely sure that the game will be out at the announced date. That’s why we prefer to communicate the date not when an episode has completed development on DONTNOD’s side, but rather when we have successfully passed certification (the submission phase)!
But what about PC? Due to the constantly evolving nature of PC gaming and the multitude of device configurations compared to consoles, specific requirement checks across all games are harder to maintain and test against. However, to ensure that the game adheres to their standards of quality, Square Enix employs another QA division (called TQA), which specializes in testing the performance and the technical specifications of the PC versions. This team has to test hundreds of compatibilities between various hard- and software configurations and make sure that the experience on PC is as good as it is on console while also providing PC specific functionality like dedicated display options.
QA is serious business.
The Enzyme Compat QA Team!
So while the majority of the team had already fully switched to the development of Episode 3 (and very early stages of Episode 4!), the QA teams in Montreal and at DONTNOD as well as the submissions teams were still closely following the certification process. These groups will also maintain a sort of surveillance unit and work with the community and customer support team after Episode 2 is released in order to identify bugs that may have not been found during the test phases and work on fixes for a later patch (which by the way also requires a submission for each platform!).
That brings us to today - Press previews of Episode 2 should be releasing in the very near future. ahead of next week’s Episode 2 launch on January 24th. We can’t wait for you to play this Episode 2 and look forward to hearing what you think of it!
The Life is Strange Team